New Delhi: Australia today said “it won’t be easy” to conclude the proposed free trade agreement with India this year but stressed that it is an achievable goal.
“My aim is to keep the momentum building as there is definitely an enthusiasm on both sides to conclude a quality agreement this year, it won’t be easy, but it certainly remains an achievable goal,” Australian High Commission said quoting Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb.
Robb is coming India to participate in the Global Exhibition on Services, which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 23.
The statement said that the key objective of his visit will be to build further momentum towards the conclusion of Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
Modi and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott have set a target of completing the negotiations by the end of this year, it said.
During his four-day visit, starting today, Robb would meet Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, senior business leaders, investors and policy experts in Delhi and Mumbai.
His visit follows a formal round of CECA negotiations in Canberra last week.
“Services represent around 70 per cent of Australia’s economy, yet just 15 per cent of our exports. This is an export we are determined to grow and there are strong prospects with India across a wide range of services, given it is one of the world’s most rapidly growing services markets on account of a rising middle class,” he said.
Robb also said that there was a significant scope to grow the two-way investment relationship between the two nations.
“I am determined to ensure that both services and investment are given real prominence in the CECA negotiations, along with improved levels of market access for goods trade.”
The CECA negotiations, which started in 2011, aimed at liberalising trade in goods and services besides creating a level playing field to boost investments.
According to a feasibility study conducted by both the countries jointly, the comprehensive FTA is likely to result in India gaining between 0.15 and 1.14 per cent of its GDP, while Australia would end up with the gains between 0.23 and 1.17 per cent of its GDP.
The two-way trade between India and Australia stood at USD 12.12 billion in 2014-15.
India’s foreign investment into Australia is worth USD 11 billion. While, Australia has invested only USD 649.37 million during April 2000 and January 2015 in India.
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